Saturday morning at the Nassau Coliseum exuded an informative and light mood at the RE/MAX Open House Panel discussion, which also included an exclusive luncheon with partial plan ticket buyers.
Before the ceremonies began, Islanders captain Bill Guerin presented team jerseys to newcomers Doug Weight and 2008 first round draft pick Josh Bailey
in front of a media gathering in the Islanders locker room.
"Welcome to the organization and rookie hazing," said Guerin, handing Bailey a number 4 "Favre" Islanders jersey, amidst a sea of laughs from the media. "But seriously, welcome to Long Island."
Guerin next unveiled Weight's number 93 jersey stating, "Doug's had number 39 for the first 20-something years of his career, but there's someone on this team that already has it (Rick DiPietro
). Doug's been a great friend of mine for a while and we're happy to have him here."
Later, in front of hundreds of fans in attendance, Islanders radio broadcaster Chris King introduced NYI Blog Boxers Tom Liodice and Michael Schuerlein and IslanderMania representative Blair MacGregor (Son of Scissons), who served as the panelists for the Q and A session with Weight and Bailey. Questions were also opened up later to the general public.
"Which young player do you most look forward to playing with next season?" Liodice asked Weight.
"I look forward to playing with all of them," responded Weight. "It's going to be an eventful camp. Garth has told everyone they need to earn their ice time and spots. It's going to be lots of fun to see these guys. I almost feel like a rookie, coming into a new camp. I look forward to playing with whoever makes the team. It's really important that the veterans and rookies feel comfortable together. We all expect a lot from the young guys and the old guys."
Schuerlein asked Bailey what he hopes to learn from the veterans at Training Camp.
"Some of these guys have been in the league so long and know so much," replied Bailey. "I'll be all ears. I'm going to be fortunate enough to play with these guys and will be very honored."
"Thanks to the Blog Box, I've had the opportunity to talk to these guys one-on-one in private, but it's totally different doing it up on stage in front of so many people," said Liodice of the experience. "It took a little bit to psych ourselves up for it, but I think it went well. Bailey seems like such a nice kid and Weight is really funny."
Added Schuerlein, "You just had to pretend like you were talking to these guys behind the scenes and not in front of everyone. We just had to focus."
As always, the I.C.E. Tour was out in full force with inflatable games and hockey equipment for the kids.
"My family had a great time here today," said James Cronin from East Meadow. "I'm really excited about the team this year and to see a couple of the new players in person."
Those in attendance who purchased partial or season ticket plans at the Coliseum on Saturday received a private lunch at Doolin's Pub with Weight and Bailey following the panel discussion.
"We purchased a plan and had a great time at Doolin's Pub," said Scott Smith from Merrick, who was with wife Maxine and their kids Eric and Allison. "All of the Islanders were very personable and the kids really liked them. This was a good introduction to the new players and a great opportunity for the kids to experience them up close."For more information on how to purchase a season or partial plan for the 2008-09 Islanders season, please call 1-800-882-ISLES. Click here
to check out Tom Liodice's blog "The Tiger Track."Click here
to view Michael Schuerlein's blog "Isles Blogger."
You can access Islandermania, the Islanders' official message board by clicking here